By: Nick Lape ACSM, FMS
Now, anyone who knows me knows that I love to lift heavy weights. I have fought gravity and won many times. I have also fought gravity and lost just as many times, well okay, probably more like twice as often as I have succeeded. If I didn’t fail those times, I feel as though I would get bored with lifting weights. Failure allows me to compete with myself. In my mind and even in the minds of some of my clients, it creates this excitement of, “How far can I push my body?” While heavy lifting should be done in moderation, there are some great benefits to testing your body and making it stronger.
First, there tends to be this thought process that lifting heavy weights is dangerous. While that is very true if done improperly, focusing on this only increases the fear of doing it. Every time I lift heavy weights, I view it as practice. Put your body under that much stress and you begin to teach your body things. You learn. You move. You continue to teach yourself how to stabilize certain areas and mobilize others, as well as what force is needed to lift a certain weight. You truly turn your body into a one piece machine by connecting your brain with every part of your body. If it doesn’t work as one, you put yourself at risk of injuring yourself or failing at a lift attempt. The biggest thing to take away is the fact that you are teaching your body how to take on an obstacle that requires the entirety of your body and mind to overcome.
Second, I want to reiterate how competitive lifting heavy weights can be both inter- and intra-personally. Being able to compete with your self can push you to the point that failure is no longer an option. It’s always fun to watch the numbers on your lift card or program card go up. When it happens you begin to wonder what it might take in order to get to whatever goal you have. Now take everything from above and add a crowd, or a weight lifting buddy, or simply someone you are quietly competing with from across the gym. For some it starts a fire, a fire that can’t be extinguished easily by simply lifting alone.
Lastly, and probably most obvious is sheer strength. If you aren’t challenging the body then there is a good chance you aren’t getting stronger. When you aren’t getting stronger, you aren’t building lean muscle fibers, when you aren’t building muscle fibers you aren’t maximizing your metabolism to burn fat. Lifting heavy things can be the ultimate test of your strength. However, LADIES, I will put it to rest, yes some of you are made to gain more muscle mass than others. HOWEVER, it is scientifically impossible, without the help of anabolic boosters and a ridiculous diet, for you to get bulky. So, cast that worry aside right now. GENTLEMEN, if you want those big, attractive legs, arms, back, etc., and you are NOT lifting heavy weights, you may be wasting your time in the gym. Does it have to be every day? Nope, and it shouldn’t. But, if it isn’t at least one or maybe two days a week, bodily changes aren’t going to happen in the way that you want them to.
For years I’ve lifted heavy weights. I have learned so much from myself and others. And, that is exactly how you start heavy weightlifting. You learn. You teach. And you learn and teach some more. If you aren’t challenging your body, how can you possibly make it better? The answer, you can’t! Lifting heavy weights can be fun, competitive, and beneficial to your overall health. If someone says, “But it’s dangerous,” reply with, “So is being weak.” Our bodies don’t last forever. While we still have the ability, challenging it to do more (again in moderation and proper form) is the only way that we find our limits and surpass them. It is the only way we can learn to set lifting goals in the gym. It is the only way to guarantee that we have a strong healthy body for years to come. That is why we lift heavy things.